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St Columba’s History Immortalised With Digitisation of College Magazines

A fascinating insight in to the lives of students and past students of St Columba’s College in Dublin has been digitised and preserved for posterity. One hundred and seventy–three years of college history, as recorded in their magazines, has been transferred into digital format. It is hoped to have the treasure trove of material available online in time for St Columba’s 175th anniversary in 2018.

St Columba's
St Columba's

The paper trail covers a number of college magazines including: The Columban, The Old Columban Society Supplement and The Old Columban Bulletin. The painstaking work, involving 7,000 pages and an estimated 4,500,000 words, was carried out for the college by researcher and historian, Patrick Hugh Lynch.

Sub–Warden of the college, Julian Girdham, assisted with the project. Launching the project yesterday evening (Thursday June 16), he said the archive included both social and cultural history of the school and wider society. He detailed a number of highlights among them the Columban response to the 1916 Rising in the July 1916 edition which described it as a “deplorable insurrection” and the “darkest hour”. It was also noted in the same edition that term started late on account of “the disturbances”. He also pointed to a 1922 edition in which the editorial attempted to work out the Columban’s attitude towards the new Free State. He paid tribute to Patrick for the “sensational gift he has given the college”.

Current magazine editor, Ninian Faulkner, spoke about how production of the magazine had changed over the years from hot lead to the new challenges of the computer age. Describing Patrick Lynch as a hero he said: “Not since the cataloguing of the college archives in the mid 1990s has there been such an important advance as the digitisation of these magazines – one a record of college life and the other a record of the lives of old Columbans”.

Patrick Lynch said the digitisation of The Columban and The Old Columban Society showed the college’s rich cultural heritage and its contribution to Irish life and beyond. He explained that initially the material was scanned but later they obtained a higher resolution by photographing each page. 

“At the end of gargantuan projects those connected with project management are often asked what were the highlights. I look back on this project with fond memories of reading about the evolution of the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1910 from a Church of Ireland Perspective. In 1922 there was a wonderful article on how St Columba’s would play its role in the new an Independent Irish State,” he commented.

The Warden, Dr Lindsay Haslett, described the digital archive as “utterly captivating” and thanked Patrick for his mindboggling work. “He has immortalised things for us as a college but also as a historical resource for the country,” he said.

Photo Caption: Ninian Faulkner, Dr Lindsay Haslett, Patrick Hugh Lynch, Marie Haslette and Julian Girdham.


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